Congratulations, President-elect Trump. Congratulations to the historic, never-before-seen governing majority he assembled. It’s time to hope I was wrong and work for President Trump’s success — for America’s success.
Here are my first six takeaways from last night’s historic victory:
1.) The RNC’s “Autopsy” from 2012 got it exactly wrong in arguing the key to victory was less social conservatism and more of the standard GOP economic message. One key to Trump’s victory was to combine social conservatism with a new populist economic message. White evangelicals voted for him in record, never-before-seen numbers: 81 percent to 16 percent according to exit polls. That tops George W. Bush’s record of 78 percent in 2004.
2.) Latinos were the dog that didn’t bark. Build a wall, chastise Mexican immigrants as rapists, threaten to deport illegals — despite Trump’s often unusually harsh tone, he actually gained slightly more of the Latino vote than Romney did, 29 percent versus 27 percent. In Florida, he won 33 percent of the Latino vote. Apparently, Hispanic voters care less about immigration than elites think they should.
3.) The biggest loser last night was the donor class. According to OpenSecrets.org, Trump raised $250 million — less than half of the $687 million Clinton raised. Trump demonstrated that you can lose the money primary and still win the election. Television is no longer king. This is a huge opportunity for social conservatives in particular; as donors recognize giving to super PACs is just padding the pockets of consultants who make money whether they win or lose, they are going to be looking for new more effective political vehicles. Money didn’t make Jeb Bush the nominee nor Hillary Clinton the president. “Big data died,” opined MSNBC’s data guy Mike Murphy. No, but message still matters more than money. That’s a win for American democracy.
4.) CNN’s Van Jones called this a “whitelash” against a changing country. No, it’s a “whitelash” by folks facing deteriorating economic prospects combined with an elite culture that increasingly defines “white” as “bad.” Sixty-five percent of the white working class told PPRI things were better in the 1950s than today. I still believe in Martin Luther King’s message of our common humanity, not racial identity. I refuse to identify as white with white people. But if liberal culture is going to identify people by the color of their skin, they cannot be surprised that those they so identify are going to rebel against being told they must silently surrender skin color privilege they cannot see.
5.) The gender gap was closed this year in a rather striking fashion: women favored Clinton by 12 points, men favored Trump by exactly the same margin. But male turnout on election day was up by 1 percentage point. Democrats have a man problem. But the gender gap was also primarily a race gap. Trump won white women with less than a college degree, with 62 percent to Clinton’s 34 percent.
6.) Justice Scalia’s seat is saved. Amazing.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project and can be followed on Twitter @MaggieGallaghe.